Divorce legal issues in Georgia must be settled through the spouses’ agreement or by a trial before the divorce is approved. But there may be post-divorce modifications in specific situations.

Settlement agreements

The spouses can initially settle issues by entering a written agreement that must be reviewed and approved by the court before the divorce is granted. The judge will decide child custody matters if the spouses cannot reach an agreement.

A trial will be held if the spouses cannot settle financial matters. Only a small number of divorce cases up in a trial in this state.

Any evidence of wrongdoing is admissible for spousal support and division of marital property. A spouse’s ability to pay and financial need is relevant for child and spousal support matters.

Reasons

A court can change agreements that are unfair to a spouse or the children, especially if the child’s best interest is at issue.

Changed financial circumstances for either parent or spouse after the divorce is a typical reason for modifying child or spousal support. Generally, child support can be modified once every two years. Changes in support payments must be based upon either spouse’s financial situation.

Agreements

Spousal support may be changed if the spouse receiving alimony lives in an open and continuous sexual relationship. Parties, even though it is unwise, can waive or surrender their future rights to modify this support in the original agreement.

Courts must find a change in the child’s or parent’s life that affects the child’s welfare before it will modify custody. Changes in the parent’s circumstances must also affect the child and occur after the final order was decided.

A spouse must show that a condition materially improved or worsened if a change is based upon a situation existing during the original court case. The custody preferences of a child who is 14 or older may not be a material change of circumstances more than once every two years.

Child support

Parents cannot waive their ability to modify child support. Support orders may be modified based upon changes in either parent’s income or the child’s changing needs.

Visitation

Visitation may change if it is in the child’s best interest without proving that there was material change in the child’s or parent’s life that negatively affects the child. Parents must wait two years after a court grants a modification to request another one unless circumstances materially changed.

An attorney can help spouses seek a fair and reasonable decree. Legal representation may also help parents pursue modifications.